Online Instructor of the Year Steve Miller – Course Tour (2018)


Hello, my name is Steve Miller, I teach
political science at Modesto Junior College. I would like to welcome you to
my online course tour. I really appreciate that you’re joining me at this
tour, I hope that you find the information to be helpful in useful.
Let’s begin. This is the homepage for my online course on American Political
Thought, which is one of my favorite courses. At the top, I tell students to
read the entire module before attempting the assignments. I include a table that
has different graded assignments that are due for that week, and towards the
bottom, I have a link to due dates for the entire semester. The central part of
my course is the modules. Let’s take a look at, for example, week two; which is on
the political theories of Thomas Paine and John Adams. I start out with a
paragraph where I try to draw the students into the readings, and the
political theorists, and I include my course learning objectives. These are the readings for the week from
the text in our line. For this week, the students will also
watch a video clip from the film “Frost/Nixon”, where Richard Nixon makes a
statement that, quote, “When the President does it it’s not illegal,” unquote. In
our discussion for this week, we will directly contrast this statement by
Nixon with John Adams’ position that no one is above the law. This is a video lecture that I developed
on common sense and thoughts on government. In this video lecture, I try
to guide students on the reading. The lecture will give students background
information, political context, and discuss terms or concepts to focus on;
related to Thomas Paine and John Adams. In addition, I provide study questions.
The idea here is very similar to the lecture video, but this is textual. I give
students a series of questions on the reading for that week that they can work
through, again to help give them a focus. This is our first discussion for the
course. For the discussions, the students are to post an initial post, then post
two responses to classmates initial posts. In addition, there’s a third part
where they have to go back and respond to everyone who responded to their
initial post. This last part is very important, because that way the
discussion is more like a discussion. Students have to go back and forth on
the discussion board, replying to each other more than they otherwise would. I include at the top here my “Netiquette Policy”. Regarding the way that I facilitate
discussions, I want to set forth two approaches that I use. One is
that I always give students a choice for this assignment. The choice is to answer
three out of four questions. By giving students a choice, they can write on
questions that they are most interested in. Also when the discussion board gets
going, there’s more variety because you have different students answering
different questions. The second component of my discussion approach is that I like
to participate in the discussions myself. Usually, I’ll select four to eight
students to reply to during a discussion. It’s an opportunity for me to stay
engaged in the discussion and give students some feedback. Some encouragement.
If they get a little off track, I try to steer them in the right direction.
Sometimes there might be an issue with netiquette, and I can intervene there as
well. In some, I feel that when I as an instructor participate in the discussion,
it’s really a good way for me to get feedback. Another feature of my modules
is, I always embed announcements. I post one announcement per week. Students can
see the week two announcement, for example, by clicking on this link;
or they can click on the Announcements tab. You can see the different
announcements that have been posted thus far for the course. I believe
announcements are a very good way for the instructor to make contact with
students in relation to academic matters. Now at this point, I’ve gone over my
module. I’d like to take you through some other components and tools that I use in
my course. Let’s start here, with NameCoach. NameCoach allows students to
record their name on audio, then as an instructor, I can play that back; which
enables me to hear and learn how to correctly pronounce my students’ names.
This is very valuable, because when they give comments in the gradebook, I like to
give audio comments for my students by using NameCoach. I can be sure that I’m
pronouncing their names correctly. I’d like to now turn to assignments. My philosophy for assignments is, I want
to be sure to offer students variety. This means they’ll participate in
discussions, take quizzes, write reflection statements on class policies,
answer the study questions for each week, participate in VoiceThread assignments,
write essays, and take essay exams for this class. One assignment that I
especially like to assign is a politics and american short-story analysis.
Students write about an American short story, and identify ways that the
story relates to themes, concepts and ideas in American political thought. The
final tool that I want to go over is ConferNow, which is probably my favorite
tool. ConferNow facilitates web conferencing
sessions. This is my schedule here, for the web conferencing sessions for this
semester. I scheduled four one-hour sessions. This enables me to interact
with students in a live way. I usually have about five to eight students who
participate in each ConferNow session. The kinds of topics that we go over are,
I’ll ask them if they have any questions on upcoming assignments, we’ll go over
the study questions, we’ll talk about current events. ConferNow also has a
share screen feature, which is great because I can then show a video clip and
we can have a group discussion about it. Or I might give them any lecture, or show
a visual representation, that has political components to it and we can
have a group discussion on that. I think ConferNow is really a terrific way to
enhance an online class, and promote interaction with students in a way
that’s meaningful and productive. Well, that concludes my course tour. I really
appreciate that you joined me for the tour. I hope that you found the
information to be useful. Thank you.

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